Rocking the establishment?

Rocking the establishment?

Ford Motor Company of South Africa is steadily expanding its local commercial vehicle offering. GAVIN MYERS gets acquainted with its largest range to be introduced yet.

It’s no secret that Ford is on a global charge with its commercial vehicle range. With its One Ford strategy forming the basis, models, such as the previously Eurocentric Transit range, are now being developed to tackle North America (we know the United States traditionally likes to do things its own way …) and other world markets. Happily, South Africa is bearing the fruit of this strategy as well.

Following the launch last year of the successful, “mid-range” Transit and Tourneo Custom models, the company launched the “full-size” versions during August – known simply as Transit and Tourneo. Next year will see the introduction of the “baby”, Volkswagen Caddy-rivalling Transit and Tourneo Connect.

Alley docking the Jumbo model using only its reversing camera was a cinch.The latest range consists of six new derivatives – a Transit panel van in medium wheelbase (MWB), medium-roof and extended long-wheelbase, and high-roof (known as the Jumbo) configurations; a Transit chassis cab featuring the same wheelbase options, both with low roofs; and the Tourneo bus, in 12-seat MWB medium roof and 18-seat Jumbo.

Each derivative is fitted with a version of the company’s 2,2-litre, four-cylinder Duratorq diesel engine, coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox. The different versions are also designed with both front and rear-wheel drive (RWD) configurations.

MWB Transits get 92 kW and 350 Nm in FWD; Jumbo versions get 114 kW, 385 Nm and RWD; while both versions of the Tourneo make do with 100 kW and 350 Nm, driving the rear wheels.

The spec sheets read impressively. Load volumes of the Transit panel van total 10 500 and 14 800 litres in the MWB and Jumbo versions respectively. Gross vehicle mass ratings for both van and chassis cab versions are 3 300 and 4 700 kg, respectively for MWB and Jumbo versions. Van payloads count in at 1 325 and 2 270 kg, while those figures for the chassis cab models are 1 597 and 2 691 kg.

The chassis cab can be ordered from the factory with a R4 000 float (a body-equipment mounting manual is available from the dealers), while the panel van models are accessed by split rear doors that open to 207° and a single, 1 300 mm left-hand side sliding door.

Aimed at shuttle services and schools, the bus features removable rear seats for wheelchair accommodation, opening rear windows and the option of rear air-conditioning.

I was able to sample the MWB chassis cab and panel van (which both require a normal code 8, or EB, licence) as well as the Jumbo panel van (that needs a code 10, or C1, licence) at the launch event.

The chassis cab model is smooth and comfortable on road.All versions have a comfortable, functional cabin for the driver and two passengers. In addition to the usual parcel shelves, electric windows and 12 v power sockets, other innovative features include 92 litres of under-seat storage, a tray and storage compartment in the middle seat back, and an integrated phone holder in the driver’s door. This is designed to keep the phone out of reach so that the driver can only use the standard Bluetooth hands-free system.

A full suite of safety features includes ABS anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution; Electronic Stability Program, Load Adaptive Control, Roll Over Mitigation, Trailer Sway Control and Hill Launch Assist.

On the road, the chassis cab rides exceptionally smoothly and comfortably, even unladen. Each (including the Jumbo models), proved very wieldy and nimble around the obstacle courses Ford had set up for us to tackle.

A very interesting challenge was an alley-docking parking manoeuvre that we had to complete using only the Jumbo panel van’s optional reversing camera. It was a piece of cake – it even tells you exactly where to stop so that there is enough space to open the rear doors!

The new Transit and Tourneo range is priced from R359 900 for the Transit Single Chassis Cab 2.2 TDCi MWB, rising to R559 900 for the 18-seat Tourneo 2.2 TDCi. Both ranges are covered by a standard four-year/120 000 km comprehensive warranty, a five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty and three-year/unlimited km roadside assistance. Service plans are offered as a dealer option.

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